What I hope Apple has in store for us in 2024

2023 has been a big year for Apple, as 2022 was before it. The same can be said for 2021, and by now you’re probably noticing something of a pattern. Every year is a big year when you’re Apple, whether you’re launching a big new product or watching and listening as the world waits for you to make a mistake and fall on your face. But 2024 is somehow a little different. It’s a year where the pressure is very much on, and Apple is getting ready to launch some big new products — although admittedly, some of them are newer than others. But for those of us watching from the outside, 2024 has the potential to be one of those big years that we one day look back on. The question is, how will we look at it?

As 2023 starts to wind down and 2024 begins to come into focus, there are plenty of rumors flying around to suggest that Apple has a lot of irons on the fire. While 2023 saw some of its product lines stagnate, the opposite is expected in 2024. The iPad lineup is in for a revamp, and the Apple Watch could be about to go through its biggest change in a decade. And that’s before we get onto the iPhones that we can safely expect towards the end of the year. Oh, and there’s the little matter of Apple’s entry into a new market.

That market, the mixed reality headset market, is an interesting one. It’s still young, and there aren’t all that many options to be had. And the Vision Pro is set to be like nothing anyone has ever tried before. That’s exciting, but it’s also a potential for a misstep the likes of which Apple isn’t really used to. And that makes 2024 more important — and more interesting — than recent years. I, for one, can’t wait and I have big expectations for Apple in 2024.

So, with all that in mind, here’s what I’m hoping Apple will deliver next year.

The iPad Pro’s coming of age

2023 was the first year in which Apple didn’t update any part of its tablet lineup. That means there was no new iPad, iPad Air, iPad mini, or iPad Pro but 2024 is set to be a very different situation entirely.

We’ve been hearing so many rumors of a new OLED iPad Pro that it’s impossible to believe it isn’t in the cards. The expectation is that Apple is going to bring OLED tech to the small and large iPad Pro, possibly increasing the screen size slightly in the process. But the changes won’t be skin-deep, with new M3 chips also expected to be part of this refresh. And between the new, more vibrant display and the ultra-fast M3 chip, these iPad Pros will be the best yet. And it’s about time Apple used that power.

Apple seems to have taken a step back from its claim the iPad can be a laptop replacement, something that was very much part of its marketing not too long ago. There are rumors that a new, upgraded, and aluminum keyboard case is on the horizon. If true, that will make the iPad Pro more laptop-like than ever. But it’s the software that’s the problem, and I hope iPadOS 18 comes to the rescue. Improvements to Stage Manager wouldn’t go amiss, for starters. And while mouse and trackpad support has improved of late there is still room for an upgrade. I for one would like to see an actual mouse pointer, but maybe I’m just old-fashioned.

However Apple does it, the iPad Pro needs to be a place where apps have feature and usability parity with their Mac counterparts. Maybe 2024 is the year that finally starts to happen.

A new computing paradigm — enter, Vision Pro

It’s impossible to look towards 2024 without thinking about the Vision Pro headset. It’s the thing that casts a huge shadow over the year, or at least the first few months — Apple is now expected to launch it as soon as February.

Whether or not the Vision Pro headset will be a success is difficult to tell, but I do know that I want it to be. As anyone who has seen Minority Report, it’s impossible not to want a new paradigm shift in the way we use computers. Will Vision Pro and so-called spatial computing be that shift? It’s impossible to tell, but it definitely won’t happen until the $3,499 asking price is slashed by a considerable margin. Thankfully, Apple is said to be working on a cheaper AR/VR headset version already.

You could argue that the iPhone has already changed the way we use computers — in that we don’t necessarily need to use them anywhere near as much as we once did — but it’s Vision Pro and visionOS that have the potential to change the game in a whole new way. Those who have spent hands-on time with the headset have been almost universally impressed, which bodes well. But we won’t get a proper feel for how impressive the headset is until it starts landing on the heads of people who spent their money on it.

I’d like to see Apple give Vision Pro every chance of success, something I’m sure it will. But the main thing I want is something that might not bear fruit until 2025. I want Apple to be hard at work finding ways to make the headset cheaper and more accessible. If only so that I can justify spending the money on one in the future!

An Apple Watch refresh worthy of a 10-year birthday

The original Apple Watch shipped in 2014 — I have mine right here, and it still works just fine — which makes the 2024 model one that will celebrate a 10-year birthday. And that’s a big deal for Apple.

Apple has a history of celebrating such milestones. The iPhone X shipped in 2017, 10 years after the original iPhone, and we’ve already heard rumors that the next wearable out of Cupertino could bear the Apple Watch X moniker.

I’d very much like to see Apple go all-out with the Apple Watch X, just as it did with the iPhone X in 2017. That model brought with it a redesign that saw the debut of Face ID, a feature that is still a key part of its best iPhones and iPads today. I’d also like to see Apple finally offer some new sensors and health capabilities as well.

Thankfully, rumors suggest that’s exactly what Apple has in store. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims sleep apnea and blood pressure monitoring are two features in the pipeline, with the latter being of particular interest to me. I currently monitor my own hypertension using a cuff device that connects to my iPhone 15 Pro Max via Bluetooth, and while it works, it feels like it’s time it was put out to pasture. I’m looking to the Apple Watch X to make that possible.

Wildcard — a clearer high-end Mac strategy

This one seems unlikely, if only because I’m not 100% convinced that Apple knows what its strategy is at this point. But hear me out.

In 2024 I’d like it to be more clear what Apple thinks the Mac Pro is for. Who, it’s for, to be more precise. Because right now, it doesn’t really seem to be for anyone. It has the same innards as the Mac Studio right now, topping out at the M2 Ultra chip. But it’s a lot bigger and costs more.

Historically, the Mac Pro was designed for people who want to put their own graphics cards inside, adding more RAM and an upgraded CPU as they go. But while the Mac Pro is still modular, it isn’t modular in the way a Mac Pro normally is. You can’t add more RAM or upgrade the CPU, and it doesn’t have a discrete GPU for you to upgrade — everything’s built into the Apple silicon you chose when you bought it.

Sure, you can add specialist I/O cards and internal storage if you must, but the number of people who need that kind of thing is so minuscule that it’s hard to imagine it’s a market Apple even needs to cater to. The Mac Pro market was already minuscule before the Mac Studio arrived. Now the Mac Pro doesn’t have all the best bits of what made it a Mac Pro, so I’m not sure it needs to be around anymore.

I’d like to see Apple really address that. Either by making the Mac Pro more upgradable — which seems unlikely — or just canning the whole thing and calling it a day.

The rest will take care of itself

There are plenty more new products on the horizon for Apple, but they’ll pretty much take care of themselves. The iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro lineups will be great, and there’s talk of a new 12.9-inch iPad Air, but this will all take care of itself. And neither will be truly new, so really, how exciting can they be?

The real star of 2024 is sure to be the Vision Pro headset, but it could also be the biggest flop as well. But much like the gifts around the Christmas tree, Apple’s other product releases will surround it, no doubt selling well and offering relatively minor upgrades over the models they replace. And that’s all just fine.

Just so long as Apple Santa gives me some of the big gifts I just asked for, that is.